The number one rule in our kitchen is, “Don’t kill anyone.” Number two rule: “Make the granola perfect Every. Single. Time.” After that, we’re pretty relaxed. Okay, maybe not that relaxed. I’ve been known to tell off health inspectors for trying to place their clipboard on my worktable. But, other than being obsessed with hygiene (a trait I, personally, would like to see in all food producers) and production quality, I try to maintain the homemade, slightly unpolished feeling with Singing Bowl Granola.
We live in a world that is polished within an inch of its life. Everywhere you turn, you find uniformity, mass-production, soul-less consumer items. At some point in the last century, we were trained to think that if it doesn’t look factory made, it ain’t worth a damned thing. In relatively recent memory, the box store replaced the village specialty shops, the farmers’ markets, the milk truck. Family recipes were replaced by chemistry formulas. Feeding and clothing one’s family became a robotic chore, devoid of human connection. Connection to source. Evidence that everything we purchase has a human being’s effort behind it. Fortunately, in even more recent memory, more and more people are realizing that this is neither healthy nor sustainable. More and more people want a connection to the food they eat. They want to meet the folk who grew or made the meal on their table, hence, the rise in popularity of the farmers’ markets.
At Singing Bowl Granola we still hand label and stamp each and every granola and porridge package we sell (and we sell thousands). Depending on whether I’m doing it, or one of my more artistically inclined members of staff, or my very arty teenager is sticking label after label onto our kraft pouches, some of the labels are not as perfectly placed as others. While making every effort possible to ensure that our granolas and porridges are perfect every single time we make them, our packaging is decidedly unpolished. Mainly, this bugs me. Mainly, I have the overwhelming sense that if it’s not perfectly uniform and machine made, it isn’t very good, and, this being my company, I’m not very good. Bit by bit, however, I am re-training my brain to appreciate the unpolished look of our hand labeled packages. I know it isn’t highly efficient and we can’t keep this up as sales increase, but, for now, I am beginning to realize that the sometimes crooked label, or uneven stamp reveals to the consumer that there are actual humans involved in the production of their breakfast. My shaky hand and imperfect eye just might help create a human connection between myself and the person who chooses our granola from among the packed shelves of breakfast options. In a world that is mass-produced, uniform, and machine made, this unpolished packaging might just be a small gift to those who long for a little humanity while nourishing their body and soul.